Posts Tagged teen drug abuse
Prescription drug abuse among teens has climbed to an alarming rate. This fact has gotten health experts and law enforcement authorities worried as more and more kids are falling victims to the problem.
For Greenburgh Drug and Alcohol Task Force member and Irvington police officer Detective Kevin Johnson, the problem is so rampant that recorded violations against drugs and alcohol possession by teens and young adults has increased over the years; they have even caught kids with anti-anxiety medications and painkillers that should only be given to legitimate patients.
“It’s a huge problem, especially in these affluent towns,” Detective Johnson said. “We’re seeing it a lot more than before, and it seems as if parents don’t care about it nearly as much as having their kids do illegal drugs.”
Even pharmacists are also alarmed due to the massive amount of painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, and sleeping tabs that have been dispensed since the country fell into recession in 2008.
Yet the problem of prescription drug abuse is still taken for granted by most people. The proof is best illustrated when the Dobbs Fery PTSA organized a forum last May and despite inviting substance abuse counselors and youth officers, only a few parents attended which was a big disappointment for the organizers.
Detective Johnson explains the probable reason why the expected turnout of parents was not reached during the event. Parents usually become the source of these prescription medications which often end up misused by their kids.
“I think parents are, for the most part, turning a blind eye to it and thinking ‘It couldn’t be my kid doing this,’” Johnson said. “But I think many would be surprised. I think it will take a death from overdose or mixing with alcohol or a kid driving off the road from taking these drugs that will have to be the wake-up call. It’s a sad reality.”
During a workshop held at the Ionia County Intermediate School District, the issue of teen substance abuse was discussed. Experts said that 90% of adult drug addicts started their drug use in their teenage years.
There were about 70 attendees composed of parents and professionals from schools, hospitals, courts and treatment facilities, and law enforcement. The forum was entitled “Emerging Drug Trends in 2012” with executive director for BASES Teen Center in Charlevoix, Scott Kelly, as the resource person. The program was organized by the County Health Department and the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative.
Kelly said parents still hold the biggest influence when it comes to teen substance abuse. For instance, if parents allow their children to drink even at home, these kids will abuse alcohol up to three times more than kids whose parents restrict alcohol in any form inside or outside their homes.
“When parents open the door to some use, by saying it’s okay on special occasions or it’s okay at home; then kids think it’s okay in Johnny’s basement, it’s okay in the car. It’s important that parents say no,” Kelly said.
Parents were also informed about the greater risks that high school athletes may have when it comes to drugs and alcohol use. Athletes are often more pressured to excel in their field and expectations can be quite high that at times, they (athletes) turn to alcohol and drugs as their coping mechanisms.
It was made clear that teen substance abuse is a problem that should involve everybody’s efforts to solve. Probation officer for the Ionia County Juvenile Court Amy Buckingham also encouraged the whole community to join in the cause against substance abuse. “It isn’t just one drug or one age or one income group so that we can say, ‘It doesn’t affect me.’ This information is helping us to see that addictions affect all of us,” Buckingham said.
A study conducted by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that more teens begin their alcohol and drug activities during the summer season. In fact, first-time use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs by kids peak during the months of June and July.
Researchers noted that the number of adolescents that get entangled with these substances for the first time in their young lives are significantly higher compared to other months of the year. It’s only during the month of December that the same trend can be observed.
SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde says that the huge amount of free time in the summer can make kids vulnerable to substance abuse. “More free time and less adult supervision can make the summertime an exciting time for many young people, but it can also increase the likelihood of exposure to the dangers of substance abuse.”
Results of the study were obtained by analyzing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the year 2002 up to 2010. Students 12 to 17 years old were given survey questions with regards to their alcohol, drugs, and tobacco activities.
After gathering information from the respondents, it was found out that the number of teenagers’ first time cigarette use reach 5,000 on the average during any given day in the months of June and July. Other months only reach an average of 3,000 to 4,000.
Marijuana use is also much higher for beginners during the summer with a daily average of 4,800 while inhalant misuse and abuse is being done by about 1,500 kids daily. If it were during the other months of the year, these figures only peak by 4,000 and 1,100, respectively.
Hyde once again emphasizes the importance of communication between parents and children especially on substance abuse issues. “That is why it is critically important to take every opportunity we can throughout the year to talk to our young people about the real risks of substance abuse and effective measures for avoiding it.”
Study author Michael Cleveland from the Penn State University said that while teens are learning to choose their set of friends, parents should not be far behind in making sure that their kids’ friends also have responsible parents. There is a relationship between a teen and the behavior and attitude of his friends’ parents.
“Among friendship groups with ‘good parents’ there’s a synergistic effect — if your parents are consistent and aware of your whereabouts, and your friends’ parents are also consistent and aware of their (children’s) whereabouts, then you are less likely to use substances,” Cleveland said.
Children with parents who refuse to deal with the issue of substance abuse and at the same time belonging in a circle with friends under the same condition will more likely to go the wrong way.
The study was done with about 9,000 students from rural school districts in the 9th grade. The research team were able to identify almost 900 groups from the participants classified as to who their friends are and the parents of their chosen peers. After a year, the groups were surveyed and allowed to answer questions on alcohol, cigarette and marijuana use.
It was found out that teens with parents who regularly check on them and know their activities were less likely to get involved in drugs or alcohol use. Yet having friends with parents that are not aware of their kids’ whereabouts and activities significantly influenced the teen’s decision on the said issues despite having “good parents.”
The complete results of the study can be found in the latest issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
While the use of cocaine and methamphetamine among teens may have stabilized in the last few years, pot use is on the rise. In a new study released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, one in every ten kids is smoking marijuana at least 20 times within a month. Students between the 9th and 12th grades are also experimenting with prescription drugs.
The situation elevated due to the fact that most parents think that weed is just weed, no cause for alarm. Yet Partnership President Steve Pasierb said that parents should not take the issue of marijuana for granted. “Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them. Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy.”
The report showed that marijuana use has increased from only 19% in 2008 to about 27% in 2011. Teens who smoked pot at least 20 times in a month also climbed from 5% in 2008 to last year’s 9%. That’s about 1.5 million teens who regularly light up marijuana.
Previous researches made also had parallel results, like that of a recent survey made by a team from the University of Michigan. The initiative was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that claimed marijuana use is again on the rise after a decline in the last decade.
Results of the study have linked the use of pot and other drugs. It was suggested that teens who regularly use marijuana were also twice more likely to take cocaine or ecstasy.
The study also tackled the issue of pain medications abuse, putting Vicodin and Oxycontin as the drug of choice among teens. It was also noted that ecstasy or cocaine use is highest among Hispanic teens (almost 50%). African American teens followed suit with almost 42% hooked on prescription medications while that of Caucasian teens reached 39%.
The Trackside Teen Center was packed with parents and students during the Wilton Youth Council’s Community Conversation held last April 25.
This is the third time that the council had the event where the latest survey and reviews with regards to teen substance abuse was tackled.
Board of Education member and director of the Partnership for Success Grant at Positive Directions Lory Rothstein presented the most recent results of the online survey participated in by 883 students from the 7th to 12th grades and 446 parents from the 6th to 12th grades.
So far, this is their largest sample ever handled with the number of students accounting for 45% of the total population in the respective levels.
The report put the spotlight on alcohol, drugs, and tobacco and marijuana use among students. It was noted that there was a decrease in the use of the said substances yet the average for alcohol use is still a little over than the national average; 12th graders who admit to alcohol intake within the past 30 days was below 50%.
The relationship between alcohol and marijuana use was also discussed. The Youth Council has long named alcohol as a “gateway drug” and statistics seem to agree with them. An alarming 27.9% of students confess to drinking and smoking marijuana with only 0.7% saying they never tried any of the two substances. From the teen drinking population, 35% also owned up to pot use.
Guest Speaker for the forum Chris Brown said that a teen’s brain is not at all the same as an adult’s brain. Brown, who is a school psychologist and licensed professional counselor, made it clear to everybody that a teen’s brain’s reward center is extra sensitive compared to adults’ which makes them more vulnerable to addiction.
Mr. Brown also added that teens are not fully prepared to make the right decisions and acknowledge the consequences of their actions all the time as their brains aren’t fully developed yet.